Wednesday, June 20, 2007
When I was teaching at The George Washington University in Washington, DC, I had a number of good experiences. I got to work for Gregg Margolis (now with NREMT), to have colleagues like Melissa Alexander, Keith Monosky, Beth Adams, Mike Ward and Art Hseih and to live and work in a facinating part of the country.
How does this fit in with the cyclone in Oman?
While teaching at GW my main job was to teach 12 nurses from the Middle Eastern country of Oman to become paramedics and instructors. These nurses-turned-paramedics would then go back to Oman and begin an EMS system from scratch.
Imagine not having an EMS system at all. When the Omani government and GW first talked the Sultan wanted a system to deal with trauma on the highways of a growing and thriving country. Hmmmm...sound familiar? If not, a brief history lesson courtesy of the NAEMT.
The Royal Omani Police (ROP), who also provide fire services, said that the ambulances were only needed for trauma. Our reply: "That is what we thought in 1966." Our early highway/trauma focus is why EMS curricula are developed out of the Department of Transportation to this day.
It is the experience of a lifetime for an instructor to help set a foundation for the EMS system of an entire country. The nurses (10 men, 2 women) were wonderful people and dedicated students. They came into Washington DC during the third week of August, 2001. Far from home, they came to the U.S for a year. Unfortunately, after the attacks of 9-11-01 it wasn't a good thing to be from the Middle East and in Washington, DC.
The stories of the weeks following 9-11 are too many to recount on this blog. The students were harassed in the Metro; discriminated against for housing and purchases. I was contacted on numerous occasions by the FBI in reference to the students.
Then, after the October anthrax incidents in the D.C. postal service, they couldn't even send letters home for fear of contaminating loved ones with anthrax.
The students survived, became medics and instructors and returned home to begin the EMS program.
Back to the cyclone. While we didn't see too much on the cyclone in the news here in the US, I received photos from one of my students. He reports all of my old students are well after the cyclone. I'm sure the country of Oman tested all of their emergency services during the cyclone.
If the emergency services personnel during the cyclone had the character and dedication of the students I know, I'm guessing they did well.